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|“||I'm not the protagonist of a novel or anything. I'm just a college student who likes to read, like you could find anywhere. But... if, for argument's sake, you were to write a story with me in the lead role, it would certainly be... a tragedy.||„|
|~ Ken Kaneki|
|“||In exchange for the pleasure of living as a person that ghouls can have... we receive this instead. We're overwhelmed by our appetites. I understand the feeling of sinking into pleasure. In some ways, it's only natural that... some ghouls like Rize-san exist. However... I'm not going to lose sight of myself. That's my way of fighting.||„|
|~ Ken Kaneki|
|“||I know... there are ghouls who only see humans as targets to be preyed upon — and on the other hand, there are humans who have decided that ghouls are only inhuman monsters... But I don't think either of those are correct. I think what's necessary is the 'right distance.' Instead of mutually tramping on each others' existence we should just respect each other a little more.||„|
|~ Kaneki to Nishiki.|
|“||Shut... the hell up!||„|
|~ Kaneki to Eto Yoshimura.|
Ken Kaneki (in Japanese: 金木 研, Kaneki Ken) is the main protagonist of the manga/anime series Tokyo Ghoul and its sequel Tokyo Ghoul:re.
Ken Kaneki was once a regular human studying in a college of Japanese Literature at Kamii University. He had lived a a peaceful life, until he met Rize Kamishiro, a beautiful femme fatale who attracts and manipulates Kaneki into believing that she loves him. The two would eventually be caught in the incident known as the Steel Beam Incident, which would change Kaneki's life forever.
After his defeat during the Anteiku Raid, Kaneki was taken back to the CCG, where he suffered from blindness and amnesia. Eventually, Kishou Arima would help regain his sanity by starting a new life for him. Kaneki adopted the name Haise Sasaki and become a Ghoul Investigator for the CCG. In time, however, Kaneki regained his memories of his past self and would be reunited with his old friends. He would play a key role on ending the conflict between humans and ghouls, uniting the two species together.
Although he is the main protagonist, Kaneki commits a variety of terrible acts over the course of the series as his more ruthless and troubled personality traits show themselves.
He was voiced by Natsuki Hanae in the Japanese version, and Austin Tindle in the English version.
As a child, Kaneki had all of the same features when he initially had as a human, such as his black hair. When he was in university, Kaneki was somewhat a short and scrawny young man with no athletic background, and preferred to read books rather than play sports. In his free time, he wears a casual clothing.
After the steal beam incident, Kaneki bears a scar from the transplant operation, on the right side of his abdomen from his navel.
At his work, he wears a standard Anteiku uniform, consisting of black trousers and a gray waistcoat over a white shirt and a brown necktie. He could not control his single kakugan that manifest in his left eye, but he eventually managed to master it. He also wears a medical eye patch in order to hide it.
The mask he wears in combat, the Eyepatch Mask, resembles a dark leather gimp mask with an eye patch on its right side. It bears a lipless mouth with large, with a gnashing teeth, much like a restrained asylum/psychotic monster. Those bolts sticking out of his neck and the fact that he is an artificial ghoul invoke a Frankenstein-like theme.
After being tortured by Yamori, his appearance changed drastically. His hair became completely white, his nails were blackened, and he developed a more muscular physique. He began to favor monochrome clothing and wore a form-fitting black bodysuit with cutouts when going into battle. In order to release his kagune or his weapon.
When Kaneki became Haise Sasaki, he developed black streaks on his white hair and his hair became more curly. He also wore a white ghoul investigator outfit, much like everyone else in his squad. Overtime, his hair began to resemble closer to his previous self, in which it began to straighten and developed more black streaks.
Eventually, Kaneki fully regained his black hair again. He wore glasses, due to the blindness he was developing and wore gloves to hide his hands. He also wore black clothing to capture the reaper look, hence his name. Kaneki's hair would eventually turn back white after having his limbs repeatedly cut off by Arima. His arms would eventually regrow, but in a more abnormal shape and form.
When Kaneki emerged from the Dragon Kakuja, his hair had grown significantly longer and his arms were fully healed, back into his regular human arms. His neck appears to have scarring all over it. Years later, Kaneki retains his white hair and his scarring on his neck, but he has cut his hair back to shorter length, as well as developed a new scar on his left eye. He now wears casual clothing as he did from the very beginning.
Kaneki's personality has varied throughout his experience in Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul:re.
When Kaneki was a normal human, he was a shy and reserved person, with Hide being his only close/best friend. Kaneki usually spent most of his time reading books, mostly novels from Sen Takasuki. He was extremely gentle and appeared to be bullishness most of the time.
Kaneki's mother influenced him on a true testament of modesty. He willingly took blame and punishment from others so that he can be someone who does not hurt people, but rather absorb the torment. However, this lack of assertiveness normally got him bullied and taken advantage of. Beneath his altruistic and gentle nature was an underlying fear of being alone that was aggravated by his mother's death. He became depressed when his mother died because she was the only person who could talk to him if he had a problem, even when his mother beat him he didn't care.
He despised the idea of solitude; hence he tried to protect those who are dear to him so he would not have to face his fear of being alone in the whole world. This was perhaps Kaneki's greatest weakness. Since Kaneki was always trying to protect others, he was essentially trying to protect himself from ever being alone again forever.
Therefore, in order to escape that scenario, he would shoulder the task of protecting others onto himself, without relying on anyone else. He protects people without the need of anyone. This was also why Kaneki rejected the notion of "living" because watching others die reminded him of those lonely days without anyone besides him. After he was turned into a powerful one-eyed ghoul, he initially clung to his human side. To keep living in the human world, he began to work at Anteiku and established relationships with the other ghouls there. He started to develop an interest in becoming much stronger and began reading martial art books so he could protect those closest to him. However, he was still troubled by the fact that he was a one-eyed ghoul and wanted to search for a place where he could belong.
As much as he treasured his life, if people close to him were threatened, he would not hesitate to put his life on the line. His closest friends in the Anteiku shop were Touka Kirishima, Nishiki Nishio, Hinami Fueguchi, etc.
Following his torturous experience with Yakumo Oomori, Kaneki's mentally snapped. He has since then developed a much more aggressive and bloodlusted personality. From that point on, he becomes determined to protect the ones he cares for, even if it means having to commit selfish and horrible crimes to achieve his goals.
When he lost his memories, Kaneki slowly started to adapt to his new life as Haise Sasaki. Sasaki was both a caring, but strong CCG investigator leader. His Quinx Squad admired him and some of them, such as Saiko Yonebashi, looked up to his as a parent. Sasaki also treated Kishou Arima and Akira Mado as parents of his own. However, while he appeared to be happy from the outside, he was still deeply troubled from the inside and this was because of his memories of his past self were slowly starting to come back.
When Sasaki battled Eto during the Tsukiyama Family Extermination Operation, he fully regained his memories and returned to his previous self; Ken Kaneki. From here on, Kaneki became known as the infamous Black Reaper, in which he developed a more violent personality, similar to how he was previously when he was tortured by Yamori. Unlike last time, however, Kaneki had full intentions of wanting to die as he felt he was done with his life, receiving nothing but misery and pain.
This would change, however, when Kaneki was able to return to his old life with his previous friends, especially with Touka Kirishima, who he eventually fell in love with and married. His relationship with Touka encouraged him to stay alive, as he felt that he finally had a purpose in life to serve. From here, he soon became the One-Eyed King where he grow a mature personality and made sure that all ghouls would be kept safe and live in peace. When Kaneki was initially defeated by Juuzou Suzuya and Hanbee Abara, Kaneki still felt that he had a purpose in life to save others and to be there for Touka.
Kaneki would eventually resurface as the terrifying monster known as the Dragon. During this time, he experienced mental illusions of him and Rize, which taunt him as to how he failed to save others and instead brought the death of many. From here, Kaneki realized the flaws of his actions and how in reality, he's been fixated on dying a peaceful death. With that in mind, he becomes fully determined to put an end to the chaos surrounding him.
Once he confronts the real Rize herself, Kaneki begins to see how life truly is; everyone lives a painful life just as much as he does, but despite that, they work hard to be accepted and loved by those around them. He realizes that he is not the only protagonist of a tragedy, but others as well.
Powers and Abilities
- Ghoul Physiology: After the Steel Beam Incident, Kaneki transformed into an artificial one-eyed ghoul, developing ghoul powers and abilities after receiving Rize's kakuhou. He struggled to control his powers, due to his mental state, and started off as being rather weak. Overtime, however, he has learned how to control them and eventually surpass his opponents.
- Rinkaku Kagune: Kaneki received a rinkaku kagune, after having Rize's kakuhou transplanted inside of him. He initially had trouble adapting to using to them, but was fully able to make good use of them once he fought Yamori. Kaneki's rinkaku has changed throughout the series, in which he's been to grow more tendrils and they would develop different visuals to them, depending on the amount of humans and ghouls he's consumed. His kagune has also developed unique abilities as he was recently able to develop a sword in the shape of his quinque from his kagune.
- Rinkaku Kakuja: Ever since his first consumption from the ghoul, Yamori, Kaneki has developed a rinkaku kakuja, which has went through various changes from the amount of other kakujas he's consumed. In addition to this, his kakuja has developed into becoming stronger and more powerful than before.
- Superhuman Strength: Kaneki seems to have a high-level degree of superhuman strength due to Kaneki, ability to lift heavy things. And survive when fell into a rock or a hard concrete wall.
- Superhuman Speed: Kaneki has developed speed that surpasses humans. His speed allows him to blitz through large groups of opponents in a matter of short time. Very few people have been to rival with and surpass his speed and those that do are usually half-human and half-ghoul hybrids such as Furuta, Arima, Takizawa and Eto.
- High-Level Pain Immunity: Kaneki has developed a large resistance to pain, ever since his transformation into a ghoul. While he can still be injured, he has taken injuries that can be considered fatal, such as having his limbs sliced off, his eyes stabbed out completely and more.
- High-Level Pain tolerance: Ever since he was tortured, Keneki was able to handle a lot of pain without showing signs of pain such as when Yakumo Oomori twisted his leg, breaking it but Keneki was still able to kick him.
- Supernatural Regeneration: Kaneki inherited this power to Rize Kamishiro due to Kamishiro's ability to regenerate faster to avoid death. He has been to regenerate both massive wounds done to him, as well as limbs. He initially had difficulty regenerating certain parts of his body, as his arms were not fully healed when they were cut off by Arima, but after his experience as the Dragon, he was able to fully regenerate them.
- High Intelligence: Kaneki is an extremely intelligent person. Most his knowledge comes from his fixation on reading books. He has also been able to connect reality with the novels he reads from Sen Takasuki. He is also cunningly smart and tactical when in combat, which is one of the few reasons why the CCG looks at him as an impressive ghoul investigator.
- Martial Arts: Kaneki is extremely aggressive fighter due to his ghoul physiology and always reading about martial arts and other defensive skills. He is an excellent combatant when it comes to swordsmanship, as Arima trained him well and noted his improvements.
- Eyepatch Mask: Kaneki's iconic ghoul mask, made and given by Uta. He wears this mask whenever he is in combat with ghoul investigators, as well as to hide his identity. It is designed with an eyepatch that covers his regular eye, while his ghoul eye is left exposed.
- Yukimara 1/3: Sasaki's personal quinque weapon, which he received from Arima. It is a long-bladed weapon that can cut through ghouls easily.
- In season 2 of the anime, Kaneki joins Aogiri Tree after defeating Yamori, wheres in the original manga storyline, he forms his own group to defeat Aogiri Tree, and they were involved in a confrontation against Akihiro Kanou.
- "Kaneki" (金木) means "golden tree" and Ken (研) means "to grind/polish" or "study".
- "Sasaki" (佐々木) means "wren" and Haise (琲世) means "halsband world." The name was created using the kanji from "coffee" and "world".
- Kaneki has a habit of touching his chin with his left hand when he is hiding something. This habit appears to be subconscious, as he still does it even after his memory loss.
- In the first character popularity poll, Kaneki was ranked first. In the latest, he was second while Haise Sasaki came third.
- Ken Kaneki has similarities to Hajime Nagumo.